4 Years

What Most Children Do by This Age


Social and Emotional

  • Enjoys doing new things
  • Is more and more creative with make-believe play
  • Would rather play with other children than alone
  • Cooperates with other children
  • Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe
  • Talks about interests

Cognitive (Learning, Thinking, Problem Solving)

  • Names some colors and some numbers
  • Understands the idea of counting
  • Starts to understand time
  • Remembers parts of a story
  • Understands the idea of “same” and “different”
  • Draws a person with 2 to 4 body parts
  • Uses scissors
  • Starts to copy some capital letters
  • Plays board or card games
  • Tells you what he thinks is going to happen next in a book

Language and Communication

  • Knows some basic rules of grammar, such as correctly using “he” and “she”
  • Sings a song or says a poem from memory such as the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the “Wheels on the Bus”
  • Tells stories
  • Can say first and last name

Movement and Physical Development

  • Hops and stands on one foot up to 2 seconds
  • Catches a bounced ball most of the time
  • Pours, cuts with supervision, and mashes own food

What Families Can Do


  • Play make-believe with your child – let him/her be the leader and choose what you will play.
  • Set limits and be consistent with what your child can and cannot do.
  • Say positive things to and praise your child and what he/she is doing.
  • Give your child opportunities to play with other children.
  • Let your child solve problems when playing with friends, but be nearby to help out if needed.
  • Take time to answer your child’s “why” questions; show patience and be responsive to the questions and if you don’t know the answer, look it up together, ask your child’s thoughts or say you don’t know.
  • Provide your child with toys that build imagination such as blocks, kitchen sets and dress-up clothes.
  • Give your child simple choices whenever you can about what to wear, play, or have for snack.
  • Count items at home such as crackers, steps or stuffed animals.
  • Urge your child to use words to ask for help.
  • Read to your child every day; ask him/her to tell you what happened in the story as you go.
  • Say colors, sort items by color, shape or use such as, “Find all of the green blocks and make a tower.”
  • Point out letters and numbers in signs and everyday objects, such as, “This sign has the number four in it and you are 4-years-old.”
  • Play with balls while running and kicking.
  • Teach your child to play outdoor games like tag, follow the leader and “duck, duck, goose.”
  • Provide riding toys such as a trike, bike with training wheels or scooter.
  • Put on your child’s favorite music and have a dance party; copy each other’s moves.

Developmental Milestones